excerpts, quips, and musings on the production and post-production industry, and other stuff of interest

Where the 7D Mark II Fits

Despite having used a 7DmkI for 3 years, it is clear to me that the 7DmkII is not a portrait focused camera. If you read the announcement and specifications, it is obvious the rumor mill had been correct regarding one main theory about Canon’s intentions with the 7DmkII: It is clearly designed for sports and event photography mainly. You can candidly call it a baby 1D, perhaps, but reading up on the 7DmkII’s specifications clearly shows a camera body that was designed for action, wildlife, sports, and events. Canon even excitedly compares it to the 5DmkIII, and state that the new 7D is ideal for weddings.

This is what Canon built the 7DII for - sports and event photography. It's not your next video camera. It's not your 4K monster. It's not your lowlight video king. It's not your super cheap, Super35 high-end codec camera. It's a DSLR! Period. Remember those....the ones that take pictures? And it takes pictures of fast moving objects while tracking them and keeping them in focus!

Take a look at some of the specs: 65 point AF, built in intrevalometer, 10fps (31 RAW and over 1,000 JPEG as long as your card is fast enough to write the data), automatic lens distortion correction in-camera, GPS, weather-sealed aluminum body, and a completely revamped and upgraded metering system. These are features video guys/gals don't care about. Action photographers do. This camera makes a legitimate swipe at the Canon 1D X and Nikon D4S for a third of the price (yet, there are still reasons why a photographer might want a 1D X or D4S over a 7DII).

If Canon wanted to announce a new video camera, DSLR or not, it had NAB in April or IBC last weekend in Amsterdam. But they didn't. They announced the 7DII at Photokina, a photography show. That should say a significant something about where they intend to position this camera in their lineup.

Read the specs and press release for Canon's 7D Mark II here.

Everything You Need To Know About Codecs

I explain the concepts behind different types of codecs, but I also give some real-world examples which should help you understand how these algorithms work on a practical level, pulling frames into Photoshop to break them down and examine how our codecs have changed the image.

BMD Firmware Provides In-Camera Formatting

Blackmagic Design has released another significant firmware update, providing a feature that all users have missed since day 1, in-camera formatting.

Since they unified the code base of the BMD cameras it does seem that we've been getting firmware updates faster and more regularly. Strange thing is that these features are so long in coming in the first place. And why do firmware updates come to the BMPC4K first? Does BMD consider that their flagship camera?

We're Picking Up Where Vimeo Left Off

If you've not had a chance to see's software teaser then you're missing out. If you've ever had to use a combination of Dropbox, Vimeo, YouTube, and e-mails to sort out review & approval from clients or co-workers then this product may scratch your itch. The product is still in private beta, but a public beta is just around the corner. Pricing has yet to be announced.

You can hear Emery Wells (@EmeryWells), the co-founder of, talk with Chris Fenwick (@chrisfenwicand Alex MacLean (@alexm13on Episode 053 of the Digital Cinema Cafe.

Does Sensor Size Matter?

So that brings us to the physical size difference. Is that such a big deal? The thing that I would first consider is depth of field. The larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field you get at a given aperture. I’ve run a few tests for myself and I have yet to see a big difference in this regard from APS to full frame. When I jump to the Phase? That’s when it shows up. Night and day difference on not just the amount of fall off with focus, but the way the focus falls off. I hate the term bokeh because 99% of the time I hear people use that word they have no idea what in the hell they are talking about. It’s become this catch phrase for “out of focus” or “shallow depth of field.” When people say, “Wow. I love the bokeh in your pictures,” that’s a pretty good sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s how much focus falls off then there’s how it falls off.

There's always quite a debate when any new camera is announced about how big the sensor size is. Terms like full frame, crop sensor, Super 35, Micro 4/3, or Super16 get tossed around on blogs (like this one) and forums. Having shot many of the formats above sensor size does make a difference, but I don't think it makes as big of a difference as the pixel peepers would like to make it out to be. I think Zack has some good illustrative pictures on his post that support his claim that sensor size just doesn't matter that much. Nearly, all of the movies shot digitally are technically shot on a crop sensor camera, Super 35 (i.e. not full frame) - Skyfall, Gravity, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Zero Dark Thirty, Captain America, World War Z, Guardians of the Galaxy (and that list is just the Arri Alexa, not counting RED or Canon C cameras). I don't remember thinking in any of those movies about how bad the falloff looked due to a Super 35 sensor....!

Blackmagic Wasn't Joking

Apparently, BMD wasn't joking around when they said a unified code base for their cameras would speed up firmware updates for their cameras. After just adding a slew of ProRes updates to all their cameras, BMD announced today that they are updating the BMPC4K with options that are sorely needed (I anticipate these will be available for the cinema camera soon):

  1. On Screen Histogram
  2. Time Remaining indicator for storage space
  3. Audio level indicators

More information is available here on the BMD update here. Initial testing on my BMPC4K is stable so far.

Blackmagic Pocket Camera now $495

Facing stiff competition from the likes of Panasonic's GH4 and Sony's a7S Blackmagic lowered the price of the Pocket Camera to a mere $495. Keep in mind that this camera is a MFT (micro four-thirds) mount, but has the capability of shooting in any flavor or ProRes (courtesy of the latest firmware update) as well as CinemaDNG RAW. It's also a smaller sensor than the above listed cameras with its Super 16 sized sensor (12.48mm x 7.02mm), which amounts to a nearly 3X crop factor on lenses. The crop factor gets reduced to nearly APS-C sizes (~1.7x) if a Metabones speed booster gets attached.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera will be $495 until August 31st, 2014. I doubt they will raise the price back to the $995 after that and I’m sure it’s a marketing trick to get everyone buying quickly, but it might just work as I see the possibility of many retailers running out of stock soon.